The Blue Crab Restaurant and Oyster Bar

7900 Lakeshore Drive, (504) 284-2898;;


Restaurant bar

The dog-friendly bar hosts live music on weekends, and patrons like to watch sports or have a drink and take in the view of Lake Pontchartrain. Signature drinks include the Crab Trap (it comes with the warning: "Be careful with this one"), a blend of Bacardi and Myers rums, Beefeater gin, Courvoisier cognac and fresh fruit juices. The menu is filled with seafood and New Orleans dishes. Open Tue.-Sun. Full restaurant menu. Happy hour 4 p.m.-6:30 p.m. Tue.-Fri.

Homedale Inn

618 Homedale St., (504) 488-5519;

Neighborhood bar

All Pelicans games are screened on multiple TVs at this classic beer joint that's old-school enough (established 1937) to still sport a Jax Beer sign. The wooden deck has the rustic charm and feel of a south Louisiana fishing camp. Open daily. No food. Happy hour noon-7 p.m. Mon.-Fri.

Messina's Runway Cafe

Lakefront Airport, 6001 Stars and Stripes Blvd., (504) 241-5300;

Restaurant bar

Land at this restaurant's Walnut Room Bar in the restored art deco Lake-

front Airport to enjoy

classic cocktails. The bar overlooks the runway and

is adjacent to the dining room, which serves breakfast and lunch daily. The specialties are classic cocktails, bellinis, blood marys and mimosas — served bottomless during weekend brunches. Open Tues.-Sat. Full restaurant menu.

Parlay's Bar

870 Harrison Ave., (504) 304-6338

Neighborhood bar

Parlay's demure entrance along a bustling stretch

of Harrison Avenue belies the rowdy atmosphere you'll find on Sundays

when the New Orleans Saints play. Friendly neighborhood faces, dog and human alike, fill spots along the 60-foot wooden bar facing a line of TVs, enjoying $3 bloody marys and mimosas and a free food spread in the back room. Open daily. No food. Happy hour 4 p.m.-midnight daily.

The Steak Knife

888 Harrison Ave., (504) 488-8981;

Restaurant bar

The steak house's lounge offers plenty of seating at the bar or tables for guests having drinks before dinner or gathering to watch sports on the bar's TV. The house specialty is a frozen brandy Alexander. The Steak Knife, which specializes in steak and seafood dishes, celebrates 44 years on Dec. 27. Open Tue.-Sat. Full restaurant menu.

The Velvet Cactus

6300 Argonne Blvd., (504) 301-2083;

Restaurant bar

The community vibe that inspired and sustained Velvet Cactus' success in its first half-decade (with an expansion to Baton Rouge a year ago) is evident in the vivid paintings by area artists on display (and sold at no commission). Sit inside or chill under tree-strung lights on the patio with a variety of seasonal margaritas made with local ingredients. Open daily. Full restaurant menu. Happy hour 4:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m. Mon.-Thu., 2:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m. Fri.